The way we work and communicate with our customers has changed: business relationships now extend beyond the traditional sales team and touch every team at a company. The more technology advances, the more communication channels open up between customers and teams, reaching far beyond just sales teams today. In light of this new customer environment, the results of a study sponsored by Google and Qualtrics Research which surveyed more than 2,500 global business professionals in nine industries demonstrate just how much business relationships now impact every facet of an organization.

In this era of relationships, how can organizations keep up with ever-shifting customer conversations? Some of the key findings of the study illustrate how and why businesses should leverage CRMs, which can provide everyone at a company, regardless of team or role, insight into each unique relationship.

The new wave of relationship-makers sell as a team

While customer engagement was once a job for just the salesperson, it is now a company-wide responsibility — even HR and legal play a role in building customer relationships. According to the survey, sales teams still drive a bulk of company relationships (63 percent), but other teams such as engineering (30 percent), human resources (19 percent), and legal (14 percent) now play a much larger role. As more of the company becomes involved, business relationships begin to encompass more than just leads and customers: relationship-makers also manage vendors, partners, creatives, founders, and investors.

To maintain this increasing number of relationships across the entire company, organizations should recognize that CRMs have changed from databases for managing sales activities, accounts, and forecasts to central platforms for every department. CRMs are no longer just for account executives — they are for all employees.

Because of this shift, the design and functionality of CRMs will have to change from supporting just sales management reports to supporting any working professional at a company. Since customer communication is now happening in the productivity suite and traditional CRMs were not designed to automatically log activities from email, drive, sheets, slides, etc., the CRM needs to shift to better accommodate this communication.

Long-lasting customer relationships are key

With the rise of subscription-based products and services and with the subscription e-commerce market growing by more than 100% percent a year over the past five years, customers today have limitless options and the freedom to choose any vendor they want. Therefore, a memorable customer experience is no longer a nice-to-have: it’s a necessity. Companies of all industries must become customer-driven.

Customers look for companies that focus on loyalty: in fact, only about three percent of today’s customer relationships last less than six months, and approximately a quarter of small businesses and mid-sized companies say that most of their customer relationships last between two to four years. To drive this customer loyalty, make each engagement count. By using a CRM platform, businesses can see a history of all interactions and keep track of the last interaction with a customer to ensure a steady cadence of communication is maintained. Keeping interactions as personal as possible with the help of a CRM will extend the lifespan of the relationship.

As the survey findings demonstrate, both businesses and customers have an appetite for longer and more meaningful relationships. But to best extend and manage these relationships, businesses need to recognize the impact of the CRM and the way it needs to evolve in order to keep pace with the changing needs of customers — especially as more companies gravitate to productivity suites like G Suite. As the way we work continues to change, our tools and technology need to change with it to keep pace and help us manage the relationship era we live in today.